whatever else it may fail to do, will at any rate be equipped with all the
powers necessary to prevent the outbreak of further war.
4 c It is asked, why cannot all questions of territorial changes be left over
till the end of the war ? I think that is a most pertinent question and it is,
in fact, the answer which I and the Foreign Secretary gave in almost every
case that has been presented to us. Well, Sir, I understand the argument.
The armies., it is said, may move here and there, their front may advance or
recede, this country or that may be in occupation of this space of ground or
the other, but it is at the peace table alone that the permanent destiny of
any land or people will be decided. Why cannot that be said in this case ?
It can be said in every case, or almost every case, except in that of Poland.
So why should Poland be excepted from this general rule ? It is only for
Polish advantage and to avoid great evils which might occur. The Russian
armiesóI know nothing of their intentions^ I am speaking only of what is
obvious to anyone who studies the war mapówill probably, during the
early part of next year, traverse large areas of Poland, driving the Germans
before them. If, during those marches, fierce quarrels and fighting break
out between large sections of the Polish population and the Russian troops,
very great sufferingówhich can still be avoidedówill infallibly occur, and
new poisoned wounds will be inflicted upon those who must dwell side by
side in peace, confidence and good neighbourliness, if the tranquillity of
Europe is to be assured or the smooth working of the world organisation
for the maintenance of peace is to be created and maintained.
"All these matters are among the most serious which could possibly be
examined as far as our present lights allow. Our British principle has been
enunciated that, as I have said, all territorial changes must await the con-
ference at the peace table after the victory has been won, but to that prin-
ciple there is one exception, and that exception is, changes mutually agreed.
It must not be forgotten that in the Atlantic Charter is I think inserted the
exception that there should be no changes before the peace table except
those mutually agreed. I am absolutely convinced that it is in the profound
future interest of the Polish nation that they should reach agreement with
the Soviet Government about their disputed frontiers in the East before
the march of the Russian armies through the main part of Poland takes place.
That is the great gift they have to make to Russia, a settlement now at this
time which gives the firm title of mutual agreement to what might otherwise
be disputed at the Peace Conference. I must, however, say, because I am
most anxious the House should understand the whole position, speaking on
behalf of His Majesty's Government in a way which I believe would prob-
ably be held binding by our successors, that at the Conference we shall
adhere to the lines which I am now unfolding to the House, and shall not
hesitate to proclaim that the Russians are justly treated, and rightly treated,
in being granted the claim they make to the Eastern frontiers along the
Curzon Line as described.
" The Foreign Secretary and I have laboured for many months, we have
spared no labour of travel, no risk of political rebuff and consequent censure,
in our effort to bring about that good understanding between the Poland
whom we still recognise and the mighty Ally which has so heavily smitten
the German military power. We have never weakened in any way in our
resolve that Poland shall be restored and stand erect as a sovereign, inde-
pendent nation, free to model her social institutions or any other institutions
in any way her people choose, provided, I must say, that these are not on
Fascist lines, and provided that Poland stands loyally as a barrier and friend
of Russia against German aggression from the West. And in this task, of
course, Poland will be aided to the full by a Russian and British guarantee